27 April 2012

Interview with Ōe Kenzaburo

With regard to your relationship with [Kazuo] Watanabe, what do you consider to be the “task of the translator”, as stated by Walter Benjamin? The German term that Benjamin uses is Aufgabe, which contains both the idea of giving (geben) and abandoning or renouncing (aufgeben)…

K.O.: I am unable to philologically examine what Benjamin means by the expression “the task of the translator”. But I can tell you about my “method” for reading poems translated into Japanese.

When I read T.S. Eliot’s poetry, for example, I set out the original text before me, alongside the translations by Junzaburo Nishiwaki and Motohiro Fukase. I read these three versions and learn them by heart. In doing so, I feel that what the translations give (geben) as well as renounce (aufgeben) helps me to apprehend the original poem.

--from an interview with Ōe Kenzaburo in IF VERSO where he talked about French literature and translation, with more interview links at the bottom. The French-based site IF VERSO is well worth the look too.

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